Districto Commercial en Curacao

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IMG_3028Districto Commercial en Curacao

Curacao is a major Caribbean cruise ship sea port. It has been interesting to see the differences from one side of the island to the other. The port side consists of very nicely appointed building, painted in fashionable colors, the streets are clean, you pay for parking, there are market street vendors, and stands for tourist curiosities. Street stands work on the barter system, which I apparently need to get re-accustomed to, because I got dupped with my first purchase. I bought a small tourist trinket for three bucks and later found someone selling them three-for-five. Oh well. Lesson learned.
Having made our way to Maracaibo, VZ it is interesting to compare the two country’s a similarities and differences when it comes to their most valuable commodity: crude oil. Both the island and the country are littered with ugly refineries. In both, the air is thick in the evenings from the constant burning in the plants. Their economies are both reliant on the industry. As a consumer of petroleum I recognize it’s current significance on a global scale. But I am also someone who would like the tides to change; for us as a global community to realize and actuate the use of alternative fuels. I can’t personally claim to have much knowledge of these other options, but I believe that our dependence on petroleum has a gross political, social and environmental impact. My friend recently sent me this article about Venezuela’s tar pits and I found it to be a very informative read. http://oilsandstruth.org/china-explains-move-out-canada-venezuela. The major differences between Curacao’s petroleum and Venezuela’s is price. Venezuela’s government has chosen to restrict its oil exports, so gasoline within the country is very, very inexpensive. Yesterday, we paid twenty cents a gallon for gas. While in Curacao, gasoline prices are comparable to those in the states. This is primarily because Curacao exports the majority of their petroleum.
Fruit. Wow. Tropical fruits are my favorite! And said fruits, whilst in the tropics; the best. Giant avocados, guanabana, tamarind, duran, pineapples, plantains, strawberries, mango, banana, and coconuts…I’m in fruit heaven! In both Curacao and Venezuela, fruits are plentiful, but imported. They are imported from Columbia, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil and Panama. Curacao is completely reliant on import industry for almost all of their commodities. The people making money in these countries (either work in government) or have import businesses that take advantage of this reliance.

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El Acuario en Curacao

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IMG_2955El Acuario en Curacao

We’ve spent the last few days as tourists in Curacao. We’ve been to the Hato Caves, which are limestone caves above former plantation lands. The caves move upward into the mouton-side, so unlike most caves, they do not get cooler as you go further, they get more and more humid. Though I think the Jewel Caves, in North Dakota, are the best I’ve seen to date, this was an interesting day trip. (http://www.nps.gov/jeca/index.htm) The tour guides have to give the tour in as many languages ad represented by the groups purchasing tickets, so we listened in Spanish, in English, and then in Dutch. As people fascinated with language, this in itself was very enjoyable for us both.
We also went to The Curacao Aquarium. Admittedly, I thought this to be a tourist trap. In some ways it was, but we got to touch Manta Rays, get up close with flamingos, Alex touched and fed a nurse shark, and we watched rescued Patagonian dolphins perform a pretty spectacular show. What the aquarium lacked in size, it made up for in character and the people working there were passionate about sharing their knowledge of the surrounding sea life.
The reef system around these Caribbean islands are shallow ones, and in eminent danger of being destroyed. Many studies are being done along these reefs and in the depths below in attempts to protect them. There is a crawl space for people to get in the middle of this reef aquarium, hence the goofy photo.